Saving Alma MaterA Rescue Plan for America's Public Universities

Saving Alma MaterA Rescue Plan for America's Public Universities

James C. Garland

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226283869

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

America's public universities educate 80% of the nation's college students. But in the wake of rising demands on state treasuries, changing demographics, growing income inequality, and legislative indifference, many of these institutions have fallen into decline. Tuition costs have skyrocketed, class sizes have gone up, the number of courses offered has gone down, and the overall quality of education has decreased significantly. This book draws on the author's years of experience as a professor, administrator, and university president to argue that a new compact between state government and public universities is needed to make these schools more affordable and financially secure. The book challenges a change-resistant culture in academia that places too low a premium on efficiency and productivity. Seeing a crisis of campus leadership, the book takes state legislators to task for perpetuating the decay of their public university systems and calls for reforms in the way university presidents and governing boards are selected. It concludes that the era is long past when state appropriations can enable public universities to keep their fees low and affordable. The book thus calls for the partial deregulation of public universities and a phase-out of their state appropriations. The plan outlined in this book would tie university revenues to their performance and exploit the competitive pressures of the academic marketplace to control costs, rein in tuition, and make schools more responsive to student needs.